I Am A Reader

The principal that I have always wanted to be… Inspire our students to feel excited about becoming readers and writers, support teachers in creating a language rich environment where students are intrinsically motivated to read, write, and share!

In my seventh year as an elementary principal, my idealistic view of the principalship is quickly coming to a reality! Early in my career as an educator, my training and graduate work was focused in the area of reading instruction. I was empowered by the implementation of specific instructional routines that frequently led to quotes similar to,

“Mrs. Miller…listen to this! I can read!”

Like is was just yesterday, I can still hear those words and feel the exhilaration of listening to my students read. As teachers share the experience of students embracing the feeling of knowing and performing as readers, they are brought to tears of true happiness.  This is the best job in the world! Each day we have the opportunity to lead and celebrate our students to believe in themselves as readers.

After attending Grade Level Collaboratives led by our @ci_elem department and a Reading & Writing Workshop training led by Johnathan from @TCRWP, I see a bright intentional pathway to be the principal that I always wanted to be. I am learning more about the components of the workshop, how to help students see themselves in the books they read, and how to support and celebrate our incredible teachers so they can consistently share the authentic happiness our students own when they see themselves as readers. Thank you @ci_elem and @TCRWP! Below are just a few photos of our readers!


Pure Joy

Children want the same thing we want. To laugh, to be challenged, to be entertained and delighted. – Dr. Seuss

Pure joy is immediately felt when you view the above first day school photos. Twenty-four days ago we opened our doors to begin the 2019-20 school year. The photos shared with me are just a glimpse of the positive energy felt by our campus. Our students and teachers couldn’t wait to get started together! As I continue to reflect and smile while looking at these photos, I am reminded of the daily commitment demonstrated by our Team Elliott.

Our team consistently:

  1. smiles and welcomes our students and families each morning,
  2. plans intentionally engaging lessons,
  3. communicates expectations and success,
  4. provides feedback to ensure our students have clarity about their progress, and
  5. collaborates to know and connect with every child.

I am in awe of the heart and of the effort our team devotes to our students each day. As I walk throughout our school, the pure joy felt on the first day strongly continues. #L2IPA @elliottlearners

Our Elliott Community celebrates and empowers ALL children – who they are and who they will become.

Elliott Excellence

Mission is what you do today. The mission is there to accomplish the vision.

Vision is where the mission takes you. The vision must be consistently good for everyone involved.

Each month I anticipate the release of the consistently inspiring: Andy Stanley’s Leadership Podcast.  My desire to grow and improve as a leader only increases each time I listen. The powerful words shared by his guest, Horst Schulze, led me to reflect on the mission and vision of @ElliottLearners. After listening to our community and gathering feedback from our team during the 2018-19 school year, our mission has led us to develop the following vision.

Our intentionally collaborative team:
-seeks first to understand,
-partners with families,
-frequently communicates student progress, and
-believes we can lead each student to meet or exceed grade level standards and close achievement gaps in literacy, math, and science.

Our mission:
Our Elliott Community celebrates and empowers ALL children – who they are and who they will become.

We began the 2019-20 school year last week. Below are just a few photos that demonstrate how our vision is good for everyone involved. We have an incredible team and I am grateful for their unwavering commitment to our students and to bringing our vision to life each day!


Team Elliott Student Leaders

The above Elliott Learning Leaders led our entire school district in reciting our pledges. @elliottlearners See it through Cameron’s World

Inspiration was felt in full force this week! As our team embraced the start of  the 2019-20 school year, we have been filled with excitement and energy. On Friday, Eric Sheninger was our speaker at our #FISDconvocation2019. His incredible message to me was clear:
-continue to build meaningful relationships,
-be sure you know your why,
-prepare our students for anything, and
-share your story.

Every day, in every one of your schools, great things are happening. How does your community know? @thomasmurray & @e_shenineger

Our vision at Elliott Elementary is… Our intentionally collaborative team:
-seeks first to understand,
-partners with families,
-frequently communicates student progress, and
-believes we can lead each student to meet or exceed grade level standards and close achievement gaps in literacy, math, and science.

With Meet the Teacher Night quickly approaching, we are beginning our family partnerships by creating a warm and welcoming environment for our community!

We are a team who is committed to bringing our vision to life and reaching our mission which is: Our Elliott community celebrates and empowers ALL children – who they are and who they will become.

We can’t wait to to have our building buzzing with student learning in just a few days!

Thank you, Eric Sheninger for starting our year off with great motivation! My virtual mentor, Jan Iwase , was right in sharing your innovative work with me when I began my principalship!
Convocation Speaker

Fearless #L2ipa

Fearless = Brave * Bold * Courageous

Working with fearless educators is empowering! I joined Twitter in 2009; however, for years I had no idea how to interact with it. I would login and read a few posts from time to time and then logout unchanged. Fast forward a few years, I observed my very connected friend, Dani Burtsfield, learn and implement incredible instructional routines. As I passed her classroom,  I continued to ask, “Where did you learn this?” She would explain that all of her new learning came from her PLN and she encouraged me to dust off my unused and disengaged Twitter account and join the #G2Great Twitter Chat while at the same time she was persistent that I create a Voxer account. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed and fearful of the unknown.

Take a minute to foresee the learning possibilities.

This is where I had to take a minute and breath, knowing this learning investment would truly benefit my students. Modeling her fearless process of connecting through Twitter and Voxer, I jumped in and I am forever grateful! I learned so much from educators across the world and had the opportunity to reach out to amazing leaders who walked me through innovative implementations throughout my school. However, when I moved from Montana to Texas in July 2017, I let the transition get the best of me and I have not been as connected.

Continue to stretch your learning and fearlessly reignite learning connections.

This post idea came from much need reflection on what I would like to see stop in education. My friend and Digital Learning Coach, Sarah Fromhold, has modeled unbelievable leadership. Her passion for learning and doing what is truly best for our students inspired me to reignite my PLN.  With her leading the way, I joined the Voxer group StopRightNow39. This encouraging group of educators are reading and discussing the book: Stop. Right. Now. The 39 Stops to Making Schools Better by Jimmy Casas and Jeffrey Zoul. Just listening this week, I have new perspectives on topics I never considered thinking about or changing for the better.

Fearless learning leads to collaborative innovation.

Because of Sarah’s leadership and encouragement, many of our team members at our school are fearlessly joining in on this learning journey; and with one Voxer conversation, Dani is a part of the group as well! During her last vox, she said, “What do you think about teaching some of your teachers how to participate in a Twitter Chat?”

The powerful learning journey continues.


Rise Up!

Scroll, scroll, scroll, pause… scroll, scroll, and pause again- Two photos that might seem ordinary made me stop and reflect on simple yet incredible happenings at our school. Ultimately, these photos brought this thought to my mind.

Leaders rise above to consistently do what is best for kids!

Last Friday, suspicious smoke was spotted in a classroom. In response, our staff and 600 students evacuated our building onto the wet field across our parking lot. As it began to rain, our team patiently waited for the fire department to complete a thorough investigation. Thankfully, they gave our team permission to have our students and teachers reenter the building on the opposite side to wait until we had the all clear to go back into our classrooms.

Leaders are bright lights for all to follow!

Photo explanations:

  1. As I hurried back and forth through the building, I quickly stopped to pause to take the first photo. The gym was nearly silent as one of our Fourth Grade teachers, @TStone_TS, was reading a story to 300 third through fifth grade students. WOW! I was in awe to see all of the students listening and Tammy just doing what is best for kids!
  2. The fire department left the building very close to our scheduled lunch bunch celebration. Our Assistant Principal, @JodiJordan_JJ , managed to work through our situation with our school district security and the fire department while simultaneously communicating to teachers and students that we were still going to have our celebration lunch. The room was prepared and ready with each student having his or her name written on butcher paper at a special spot. For the second photo, I asked everyone to pause.

Elliott Elementary is a special place. Students are first.

I am grateful to work alongside incredible people.


Students see, hear, and feel our emotions. As a member of a school team, our students never forget how our facial expressions and emotions make them feel. Jon Gordon put words to these emotions in a blog post: Positively Contagious. After reading and reflecting on his posts and many of his books, it is repeatedly confirmed that attitude is everything.

“Life is 10 percent of what happens to you and 90 percent of how you react to it.”- Charles R. Swindoll

My leadership focus is and will always be contagiously positive. At Elliott Elementary, our mission statement is:

Our Elliott Community celebrates and empowers ALL students – who they are and who they will become.

It is exciting to be a part of a contagiously positive community! As we complete our first month of school, view my two minute principal’s view.